We conducted a survey involving 1,604 households to determine community care-seeking patterns and 163 exit interviews to determine appropriateness of treatment of common childhood illnesses at private sector drug shops in two rural districts of Uganda. Of children sick within the last 2 weeks, 496 (53.1%) children first sought treatment in the private sector versus 154 (16.5%) children first sought treatment in a government health facility. Only 15 (10.3%) febrile children treated at drug shops received appropriate treatment for malaria. Five (15.6%) children with both cough and fast breathing received amoxicillin, although no children received treatment for 5-7 days. Similarly, only 8 (14.3%) children with diarrhea received oral rehydration salts, but none received zinc tablets. Management of common childhood illness at private sector drug shops in rural Uganda is largely inappropriate. There is urgent need to improve the standard of care at drug shops for common childhood illness through public-private partnerships.
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